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Experiences of Food Security among Latinx Food System Workers

in Oregon

Presentation Language: English

Interpretation Available from English to Spanish


Although data are limited, undocumented Latinx immigrants may be at greater risk for food insecurity, given unique vulnerabilities like documentation status, unfamiliar food environments, formal safety net exclusion, and social isolation. Furthermore, social networks of undocumented Latinx immigrants may be comprised almost entirely of economically vulnerable individuals, lessening the opportunity for reliance on one’s family or social network for instrumental support to alleviate food insecurity. While undocumented food system workers may have unique access to foods at worksites that may buffer food insecurity, they may also experience additional risk factors such as greater job insecurity.


In-depth interviews were conducted with 18 individuals working in the food system in the Hood River area. Most individuals were of Mexican origin and male. Ages ranged from 30-73 (median age=50). Participants worked on farms, orchards, and vineyards and in fruit packing facilities in capacities including picking, machinery operation, selling, and supervision. Half worked six or seven days per week, seven (39%) considered their jobs permanent, and 14 (82%) had worked for the same company for more than a year. Themes included perceptions of greater well-being compared to others; perceptions of individual and cultural hardiness and persistence in difficult circumstances, often attributed to fatalismo; and a lack of interest using food safety net resources due to these perceptions. These findings present opportunities to improve strategies to reduce food insecurity, such as reframing food resources as available to a wider segment of the community and changing programming to reflect self-perceptions of hardiness and perseverance. Community conversations and research concerning the availability and effectiveness of community food resources for serving Latinx food system workers are needed.

Learning Objectives:​​

  • Objective 1:

    • Describe the perceptions of food insecurity severity and the appraisals of food safety net resources available to and utilized by food system workers

  • Objective 2:

    • Identify considerations related to the design and marketing of safety net resources to be delivered to Latinx food system workers in community and workplace settings


Stephanie Grutzmacher - Abstract 22.jpg

Stephanie Grutzmacher

Assistant Professor, Oregon State University

Grutzmacher is an  Assistant  Professor  in Nutrition and Global Health in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences. She designs, implements, and evaluates community-based nutrition 

education programs aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and improving food security in low-income populations. She has worked extensively with SNAP-Ed programs in school, family, and community settings and an agricultural development and capacity building project in Ethiopia. Her research aims to understand the unique experiences of food insecurity among vulnerable populations to help improve food access.

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